Camp Manitou hosts Variety Village

Yesterday we kicked off our community week.  It was an incredible day that inspired campers to start many wonderful initiatives.  We also had an incredible Fireside which the Senior Unit organized and put together.

To help kick off community week, we had four incredible visitors, Chris, Melissa, Robert an Cheryl from Variety Village.  Variety Village is dedicated to people of all abilities.  It is a place to get fit and have fun. Anyone can become a member of Variety Village it is the most inclusive and family-friendly fitness, sports and life skills facility in Toronto.

While at camp, the team from Variety Village, organized, hosted and participated in various adapted activities with our Counsellors-in-Training (CITs), our first year Senior Boys and Girls and our campers who were signed up for basketball Day 1, Period 5.  Campers participated in multiple wheelchair basketball games.  The kids loved playing in the wheelchairs. They were amazed at how fast they could turn in the chairs.  The only difference in wheelchair basketball is the double dribble rule, which the campers adapted to quickly.  Wheelchair basketball was a huge success!

In addition to wheelchair basketball, Variety Village organized seated volleyball.  Campers participated at seated volleyball, which is the same as volleyball, with the obvious exception being that participants sit.  Campers found this game to be incredibly exciting and challenging.  They enjoyed playing with the seated volleyball ball which is slightly larger than the volleyballs that they are used to playing with.  Many campers fell over while attempting to reach the ball.  It was very funny to watch and fun to play!

The third activity that Variety Village ran with our campers was guided walks.  Robert, a competitive swimmer from Variety Village who has been blind since he was four years old, had a question and answer session with our campers where they asked him questions about the use of his seeing-eye-dog ‘Spoken’, and other insightful questions about himself.  After the question and answer session, Robert and his mother Cheryl, demonstrated to the campers how you would lead a blind person around on a guided tour and what good directions would sound like.  Then Robert paired up with campers and had them lead him on a tour and other campers led their friends on tours while their friends kept their eyes closed.  This was a great exercise for our campers who all really appreciated Robert and Cheryl’s honesty and guidance.

At Fireside, we continued with our incredible theme for the summer, ‘If you are judging everything you are learning nothing’.  There were several senior unit campers who spoke about their experiences at camp and with judging.  One of the senior girls started by saying that there is an interesting story about when you are born, you have a blank soul.  Supposedly, each new person you meet, you gain a piece of their soul and they gain a piece of yours.  “If you judge someone and don’t take the time to get to know them, then not only do you miss out on teaching someone something new, but you also miss out on learning something new.” Another senior girl said, “Camp has taught me to always be open minded and to accept everyone. I am so grateful for that because I am proud to call the girls I was with in Freshkids to every single girl that has joined the cabin since, my best friends.”

Other perspectives on judgement were also given in speeches from some of the senior boys.  One camper said, “Camp is a place where friends and memories are made.  If you judge everything, it puts a big wall up and stops you from making those friends, or making a certain memory, and in the end you will have more friends and better memories if you don’t judge anything.”  Another camper spoke about judging people and said, “If you spend your life judging you won’t be able to see what something is about.  When you judge, you close yourself off from true information about something.  That is why it is important to keep an open mind and learn what people have to offer.”

The senior boys and girls sang ‘Try’ by Colbie Caillat.  The song consisted of the lyrics “Take your make-up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?, ‘Cause I like you.”  The song was really great and continued with our summer theme.

Our guests from Variety Village spoke at Fireside.  Melissa introduced Variety Village to campers who didn’t have a chance to come to basketball to meet them.  Chris then spoke a little about the programs that Variety Village offers, but also commented on how much love, kindness and respect she had seen throughout her short visit from Camp Manitou’s campers and staff.  Finally Robert spoke to the Manitou community about his experiences at Variety Village and his life’s journey.  Robert at the age of four went for surgery because of a brain tumour he had.  When he awoke from the surgery, his vision was completely gone.  He explained to everyone what it was like to walk into a room and then into another and turning on lights but not being able to see anything and the fear and confusion he experienced.  He also told the campers about all of his accomplishments.  Robert competes in swimming competitions, goes racecar driving, goes climbing and has even gone skydiving.  Robert really highlighted to our campers and staff that he was still able to take part in every activity that anybody else could as long as the activity could be adapted to meet his specific needs.

We are so grateful to everyone who came from Variety Village and all of the staff who worked with us from Variety Village to make yesterday happen and a success.

Read more: Colbie Caillat – Try Lyrics | MetroLyrics